Shelby County Criminal Court Judge Lee Coffee declared a mistrial in the Timothy McKinney murder trial late Tuesday afternoon.
"I have polled these individuals and all 12 members tell me they do not believe that they can reach a unanimous verdict," Judge Coffee announced.
The judge's sober preamble, before calling in the jury for the final time, was greeted with silence in the courtroom. For the second time in two years the fate of the accused murderer was placed in limbo by a hopelessly deadlocked jury.
It marked the third time McKinney had stood trial in the shooting death of off-duty former Memphis Policeman Don Williams outside a Memphis nightspot in 1997.
Judge Coffee advised the former death row inmate to report to court May 7 in hopes they can negotiate a settlement.
In 2012 a similar indecision ended with the same result. This time after going into deliberations on Monday for less than 90 minutes the addition of six more hours on Tuesday proved again fruitless. For McKinney's attorneys their disappointment was as deep as that of McKinney's long-suffering family, and of course, that of Wilson's as well.
"This the kind of case that needs a jury to work hard and to look at all that evidence and to find that this man's not guilty," said Marty McAfee, McKinney's defense attorney. "We come back in May. We decide if this case can be settled or decide if this is going to a fourth trial."
McKinney is charged with killing an off-duty Memphis police officer on Christmas night in 1997.
This is the third time this case has gone to trial.
"Time served. They been gone 16 years," added Jason Tyus, McKinney's brother. "There he's not guilty. He didn't do it. So, that what we the family worried about. We just trying to see what it is."
McKinney was convicted in 1999 and is accused of fatally shooting Memphis policeman Don Williams, who was working security at a Memphis comedy club on Poplar Avenue Christmas night in 1997.
However, that conviction was overturned and McKinney was granted a new trial that ended with a hung jury in April 2012.
"I don't know how many hundreds of thousands of dollars or millions, we spent on this case so far for a man that's maintained his innocence for 16 years," said Gerald Skahan, McKinney's defense attorney. "It looks like we'll spend another million to try it a fourth time."
Meanwhile, McKinney returns back to prison, still staring Tennessee Death Row in the face, if he is convicted and sentenced in a case where a definitive end as determined by a jury of his peers seems impossible.
As a strange addendum to the proceedings comedian Lester Bibbs, who was suppose to testify as a defense witness on Saturday but didn't show, contacted FOX13 News Tuesday morning. He alleged he was unaware of the court date or even when the trial started.
Bibbs failed to show up in court Tuesday to explain his absence to Judge Coffee.